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jon667
07-11-2011, 09:58 PM
hi all,

I started a batch of mead (14.5 lbs honey to bring to 5 gal., sweet mead yeast, small bit of yeast energizer; OG= 1.095) about 12 days ago from a two day starter. It has slowly bubbled on since and is now bubbling about once every 20-25 seconds.

i have two questions:
1) I have read that bubbling is a poor way to determine if fermenting is done, but I also don't want to risk contamination by checking the gravity unnecessarily (as i have to take off the top of the bucket and put the hydrometer directly in the must). Is it worth checking the grav., or should I just give it another week or two and check when bubbling really slows?

2) when does autolysis begin in primary fermentation? If I wait a whole month to make sure that fermentation is REALLY done, do I risk off flavors from the lees?

Much thanks!

kudapucat
07-11-2011, 10:47 PM
It depends on the yeast, but I think most are ok for extended agin, but I think all are ok for a month or so. Personally I'd leave it. If you get burnt rubber flavours, then you know for next time, and you can bulk age it give it a chance to age out.

fatbloke
07-12-2011, 06:14 AM
As long as the normal processes are followed, then autolysis is very unlikely. The same applies to infecting the batch by just checking the gravity, as long as prudent sanitiation of equipment is carried out.

Me ? Well I mainly use home mixed sanitiser (5 crushed campden tablets, 1tsp of citric acid, mixed into a pint of water in a spray bottle). I spray sanitise a plastic chopping board to lay any "clean" kit on. The sanitiser is sprayed onto the entire length of the hydrometer, which lays on the sanitised board for a contact time of about 3 or 4 minutes. Then the bucket is opened and the hydrometer is gentle lowered in, so the top part doesn't pass below the surface of the liquid. Reading taken, hydrometer removed, rinsed in fresh water and the sprayed with the sanitiser before being placed back into it's plastic case.

I've yet to have an infection like that.

I also, if using a test jar, just put the hydrometer into that, then give it all a good spray, then so the same as above but with a turkey baster, then pour off any of the sanitiser that's settled in the testing tube, take the sample with the baster and put it into the testing tube, let the hydrometer settle, take the reading, then pour the sample back in (some say you shouldn't but it's never caused me an problem).

regards

fatbloke

Oskaar
07-12-2011, 10:07 AM
You're generally safe with primary contact on the gross lees for up to about 12 weeks. That's not true in all cases, but as a general rule.

You should be checking your gravity to monitor the fermentation. As FB noted below sanitation is key and his technique is good. I keep my hydrometer in sanitzer, and have a spray bottle of sanitizer (I use iodophor). I drop my hydrometer directly into the must if the foam isn't too bad. If its foamy as a rabid cur, I'll take a sanitized thief or pyrex beaker and pull off about .75 cup which is just right to fill my graduated cylinder. I'll whip the sample with a wisk to degas as much as I can and let it sit for a while before I take a gravity reading.

All you need to do in the primary is cover the top of the bucket with a sanitized cheese cloth or cotton cloth, and secure it in place with a bungee cord or something similar. During the first few days of fermentation you'll need to be aerating and nutrient dosing to keep your yeasties happy.

Do a forum search on Nutrient Dosing and Aeration. Better yet take a look at the Newbee guide to meadmaking.

Cheers,

Oskaar

fatbloke
07-12-2011, 02:37 PM
You're generally safe with primary contact on the gross lees for up to about 12 weeks. That's not true in all cases, but as a general rule.

You should be checking your gravity to monitor the fermentation. As FB noted below sanitation is key and his technique is good. I keep my hydrometer in sanitzer, and have a spray bottle of sanitizer (I use iodophor). I drop my hydrometer directly into the must if the foam isn't too bad. If its foamy as a rabid cur, I'll take a sanitized thief or pyrex beaker and pull off about .75 cup which is just right to fill my graduated cylinder. I'll whip the sample with a wisk to degas as much as I can and let it sit for a while before I take a gravity reading.

All you need to do in the primary is cover the top of the bucket with a sanitized cheese cloth or cotton cloth, and secure it in place with a bungee cord or something similar. During the first few days of fermentation you'll need to be aerating and nutrient dosing to keep your yeasties happy.

Do a forum search on Nutrient Dosing and Aeration. Better yet take a look at the Newbee guide to meadmaking.

Cheers,

Oskaar
Ah, excellent. The wisdom of one of our forum masters ;)

Didn't know about the 12 week thing though Osk. Is that just primary ? Only because when I'm suffering a period of lassitude toward my mead making, some of them will sit on sediment for considerably longer, while I wait for nature (Ok, gravity) to take it's course......

regards

fatbloke

jon667
07-12-2011, 07:03 PM
thanks all!
I'll take every measure i can with the sanitation and not worry much about the batch sitting on the lees too much.
Appreciate the info

wildoates
07-12-2011, 07:28 PM
Jon, my son brews beer and he absolutely has a FIT at my mead brewing techniques...I open the bucket twice a day to STIR it?! Heresy! Once I sent him a photo of the lovely krausen on a braggot I had going and he was sure it was going to ruin it. :)

But, as Oskaar and Fat Bloke have said, good sanitization goes a long way toward preventing contamination of your mead. I use star san, but the technique is the same, and it works well enough. Which is good, because my son'd never let me live it down if I ruined a batch.

More foam than a rabid cur? Very evocative, Pete...no wonder you have such a way with the ladies, with that silver tongue of yours. How could any fair young miss resist such poetic imagery?!
;D

jon667
07-12-2011, 10:44 PM
wildoates, I've got the same thing going...my neighbor makes fantastic beer and gave me the NEVER OPEN THIS speech, which I followed until I started really researching how to make mead.
I will definitely do some things differently on my next batch, such as a solid aeration and yeast nutrient regiment.

jon667
07-13-2011, 12:11 AM
I put this in another post as well. Sorry, blog newbie:

I finally summoned the courage to take a SG reading and low and behold...I've got piss poor fermentation. My OG was 1.095 and now I'm at 1.090.
I'm looking at almost 2 weeks and have less than 1% alcohol.
I tried a bit and it taste okay, like sparkling honey water.
What to do here?!

Potential problems: Low acidity? Only shook the primary once or twice the second day?

Chevette Girl
07-13-2011, 10:43 AM
Before you re-pitch or whatever suggestion from the other thread you take, you might want to get in there with a whisk or something and give it a healthy aeration...

AToE
07-13-2011, 01:27 PM
Just for clarification too, typically pH problems are from "high acidity/low pH". I see those reversed all the time though.

Personally I'd go buy a packet of a killer yeast (by killer I mean kills other yeast, not "awesome" this language makes no sense!) like K1V-1116 and rehydrate that, then pitch it. There are lots of ways to deal with a stuck ferment, but knowing that you used the sweat mead yeast I'd just say screw it and replace the yeast.